Friday, 31 July 2015

What I Currently Love (July 2015)

I did one of these posts earlier this month after being inspired by Erica Crouch's post on her blog. Since we're near the end of July and creeping ever closer to August (seriously, how is it almost August?), I thought I'd do another and tell you guys what I've been loving over the last few weeks.


ONE SHOW

How did I not get into Grimm sooner? It's pretty much everything I love in a show; there's the fairy tale/supernatural element meets the real world aspect, all wrapped up in a detective cop format. I pitched it to my friend Kel from #RoyalWriters as Once Upon A Time meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I've worked my way through the first two seasons on Netflix and am about to start the third. It's one of the major contributing factors of my NaNo problems in the last week or so (check out my confessional post here) but I regret nothing. It's just too wonderful. And Monroe? Only the coolest character ever, man. I love his bromance with Nick - it really makes the show.





TWO ALBUMS

This is kind of a cheat because it's two albums...by the same band. It wasn't until Erin Bowman told the Vengeance Road posse about the book soundtrack, that I started listening to The Civil Wars again. I love this band, they're one of my faves, but it took hearing Barton Hollow blasting out of my computer as I wrote the soundtrack post to reawaken my urge to listen to them. 

I've been walking a lot lately, playing both Barton Hollow and their self titled album. I can't really describe their sound. Part country, part western, part indie, part soulful crooning...I really don't know. All I know is I love them.



THREE PLACES

1. Lough Callow is a local fishing lake (Lough being Gaelic for 'lake') about a twenty to thirty minute walk from my parents house. It's not massive, but it is fairly peaceful there. It's nice to go out onto a jetty and just watch the water.

2. Boston, Massachusetts isn't a place I've been but I've been obsessed with it as long as I can remember. RED SOX ALL THE WAY. Ever since Dana, Steph and I looked into possibly setting our winter romance stories there, I've been doing a lot of research on it and it's making me fall in love. I definitely have to go one day!

3. And I kind of already mentioned this, but Grimm is set in Portland, Oregon and the more I watch the show, the more I love it. It's got this really gloomy, woodsy aesthetic that works so well for a show like Grimm. It reminds me a little of what I think Stephanie Meyer was going for with Forks in Twilight. But way better.

FOUR BOOKS

It's crazy that as a book nerd and this being a book blog I haven't mentioned books yet in my WICL posts. Admittedly, this is only the second but I need to rectify that immediately!


One of the August Square In Wonderland book club picks this month was Vampire Academy. Dana has been on at me to start this (especially since it's set in a boarding school and I LOVE that sort of this), and I devoured the first book in a day. It's a fun series - looking forward to the rest. And can I just say...DIMITRI FEELS.


I was approved to read An Inheritance Of Ashes by Leah Bobet and I couldn't resist starting it even though it's not coming up for a while in my review queue. The concept was so intriguing! And HELLO PWETTY COVER.


I got my hands on Vengeance Road (finally!!!) and I love the vibes of this book. Again, the cover is gorgeous. I have to totally appreciate the artwork because I haven't seen anything like this before. Goes hand in hand with my revival of my The Civil Wars love *twanging guitars and crooning*


Rereading Red Queen on the side because of all the Glass Sword hype and I forgot how much I liked about this book and also how much I'd forgotten. I so so hope it gets made into a movie because this combination of Game of Thrones meets Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters is excellent. I'd give my hands to play Mare...or my sister's ahahahaha (sorry, too soon)


FIVE FOODS

1. I've been hearing about sriracha for months on the Food Network (thank you, Snapchat Discover) and I will probably put it on anything right now. All of the noms.

2. As you're probably aware from the posts I write, I love to cook and bake. But we have some pretty specific dietary requirements in our family; my sister is a coeliac and I'm allergic to dairy. I end up having to make three lots of cupcakes when I'm baking, which is fine, but time consuming and uses a lot of ingredients (have I ever mentioned that there are ten of us living together when I'm home?). If I can find a recipe that not only caters for all of us but is delicious - which is the tricky part with food that doesn't include yummy things like butter and flour - I'm gonna pounce on it. The best one I have right now is the Lily Pebbles Brookie recipe. Chewy like brownie, crispy like cookies, tasty and no one is getting sick from eating flour or dairy? It's a winner in our house.

3. SALSA. I was making fajitas one night and we didn't have any salsa, which as you know, is very important to the fajita combination. So I looked up a couple recipes, decided what parts to take away from them and whizzed up my own. Without blowing my own trumpet, it's pretty good and goes so so well with some salty tortilla chips. I can't wait to make it from my friends when I get back. PLUS, it was made with some onion and garlic grown by the super nice doctor across the road, so it was uber fresh!

4. I cited these as one of my writing foods in the writing life post I did recently, but seriously, sour fizzy laces just rock my world. The local cinema has a Candy King pick-and-mix bar and you can bet I'm just stacking it with sour fizzy wheels and tubes.

5. OKAY THIS IS A BORING ONE. My mum has always been health conscious and looked out for natural ways to cure things or treat illnesses (within reason, of course). One food I often use in cooking is apple cider vinegar but I've recently started drinking a glass of water every morning with a tablespoon of ACV in it. The health benefits are endless, so I won't list them all here, but it's definitely helping.

What are you guys currently obsessed with? Should I be obsessed with it too? Tell me why below!



Thursday, 30 July 2015

SIW BOOK CLUB: July Wrap-Up


Have you signed up for Square In Wonderland Book Club? You can join HERE

This book club was started by Dana and Steph, and this month they invited me to become the third moderator of the group! YAAAAAAAY!!! I'm super excited about the book club and the discussions we'll have :)

THIS MONTH'S PICK


In July, we read Grave Mercy. This was our first book ever for the book club and because of that there were no polls. We discussed this book as a group and it was great to see everyone's reaction. My review of Grave Mercy went up today; my overall impression was mixed, but one day I will continue the series as lots of book club members say it gets better! We also had a cover color challenge for the month. The colors were red, white, or blue. I didn't take part myself because I'm on holiday in Ireland with my family and don't have access to my physical books!

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN AUGUST?

We had two polls for August to decide what we're going to read next month. They were both themed for the month and we can't wait to read these two books.

1. Contemporary Romance YA Poll Winner



2. YA Paranormal Boarding School Poll Winner


I powered through this book in a 24 hour period and am in LOVE with Dimitri. Looking forward to continuing the series. I've also already prepped some questions about the movie adaptation on the Goodreads page!

THE COVER COLOUR CHALLENGE FOR AUGUST

The challenge for August will be to read a book with a purple cover! I've not made any decisions myself about this one, but I hope to over the next couple of days (hopefully there's a purple book in my TBR or review queue haha)

SEPTEMBER POLLS

We have two books again for the month. Book club members aren't obligated to read both, but options are always good. That way if you're having a busy month, you can just pick whichever one takes your fancy! The themes for September are Historical Fiction (which I'll be leading questions on) and LGBT books. 

September Poll 1 (Theme: Historical Fiction)

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1) by Elizabeth Wein 3 votes 25.0%
Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1) by Susan Dennard 3 votes 25.0%
Ruby Red (Precious Stone Trilogy, #1) by Kerstin Gier 2 votes 16.7%
Jackaby (Jackaby, #1) by William   Ritter 2 votes 16.7%
Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor, #1) by Jennifer  McGowan 1 vote 8.3%
The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman, #1) by Paullina Simons 1 vote 8.3%
A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller 0 votes 0.0%
The Luxe (Luxe, #1) by Anna Godbersen 0 votes 0.0%
The Falconer (The Falconer, #1) by Elizabeth  May 0 votes 0.0%
Outlander (Outlander, #1) by Diana Gabaldon 0 votes 0.0%

September Poll #2 (Theme: LGBTQ)


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 5 votes 41.7% 
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera 3 votes 25.0%
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth 2 votes 16.7%
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen 1 vote 8.3%
Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton, #1) by Leila Rasheed 1 vote 8.3%
Under the Lights (Daylight Falls, #2) by Dahlia Adler 0 votes 0.0%
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour 0 votes 0.0%


We will be having themed blog posts on all of our blogs and we will also be posting our reviews for the books that we read! Link up any Square In Wonderland posts here (TBRs, reviews, discussions etc.)

Link up your posts for the July 2015 Square in Wonderland Book Club!


Add your link
Collection closes in 25d 13h 6m. 
Let other people know about it through twitter.

powered by InLinkz.com




Become a Square In Wonderland today!!

Square In Wonderland Book Club 
Square In Wonderland Book Club54 membersBook Club from the combining forces of Dana from Dana Square (http://www.danasquare.blogspot.com/...

Book Club Review: GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers





Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Publisher: Houghton Miffler Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3rd 2012
Genre: YA, Historical, Fantasy
Read this if you liked: The Graceling series, Seraphina, The Falconer, anything by Phillipa Gregory
Rating: 3/5 
GOODREADS
Summary:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?


This was a really hard one to review because I have such mixed reviews about the book as a whole, and I don't think I'm the only one in the book club who feels that way! There was a lot about it I liked, but there were certain areas where it fell flat for me, and that was really disappointing because I wanted to like this A LOT. It took me ages to decide on a rating. It's also affected my eagerness to read the rest of the series, because although I really want to know more about Annith and Sybella's paths after Grave Mercy, I don't know whether I want to read two more books that might follow a similar pattern to this one.

I started off really liking the book. The pace was good to start with, and by the first five chapter in I was hooked. The voice wasn't too archaic that I couldn't get into it - in fact it was a real struggle to stop at Chapter 5 in order to go do some NaNo work that day. The opening lines are a real punch to a gut, and I loved the whole premise of assassin nuns. I mean, come on. NUN ASSASSINS. I started to love Ismae's relationship with Serafina (BFF poison masters FTW). And I know that not all men are as awful as the ones Ismae came into contact with, but boy did I end up hating blokes by the end of chapter five. When Sybella asked if there was a poison to make men's 'members shrivel up and drop off', I was like, 'YOU GO GIRLFRIEND' (sorry male readers of this blog).

If it carried on like this, we would have been okay. However, I had one big problem: I could not connect with Ismae properly as a character. Ismae's voice is strange and difficult to get used to. One of the group discussion questions was, 'did we think Ismae was 14 at the start of this novel?' and I have to say, no. I actually found her abundantly annoying as a MC. The biggest issue I had with her, however, was just how dense she was about it all. There was one particular aspect to the story - without getting into Spoiler Territory - where it was clear from the get go what was happening, and it took Ismae ages to work it out. Death had to appear in the middle of a battlefield and be all like, 'gurl, you thought about this? Maybe?' I know it was done for dramatic effect, for tension, but it just missed the mark because I was too busy saying, 'well about time. I got that ten chapters back." If something appears blindingly obvious to a reader and a character then doesn't get it for ages, it can be really difficult for that narrative to not feel slow. You feel like you're fifteen steps ahead of the characters and that's backwards. You should be running and learning with them.

One of the biggest things to disappoint me was the romance. I like a slow burn, but it has to have tension and hints at more. The odd touch here and there, lingering moments. Close calls. Maybe because this was a historical romance and Duval was so noble, that's why there was no kissing until over halfway through the book. However, once we go there (FINALLY), there was nothing again until almost the end. I wasn't sure whether you could really call this a romance at all. I heard Sybella's romance in the sequel is better and Annith's romance is swoon-worthy in the final book, but I heard the same said of Grave Mercy, so I'll admit I'm skeptical whether it would satisfy my cravings.

That being said, I like them together in some ways. I liked Duval a lot, but he is virtually perfect. He was the first decent man Ismae came across in her life, and I just wish he'd been more of a realistic representation of good men. I wanted to know more about De Lornay, who seemed like a bit of dark horse and I was hoping he'd have a bigger role in the series. Beast was great too! They were boht more, what I'd call, realistic guys. Duval was a bit old school Mills and Boon for me. The rest of the male characters were absolutely awful, but that fit in with the history.

It's been a while since I've read a historical fiction, and I don't know if that's why the political, historical plot of this seemed so heavy to me. I could follow it, mostly, and it was interesting. I got a bit lost in the politics sometimes but still it was nice to read a historical fiction where the author had taken the time to actually give the story a firm political rooting. I felt really sorry for the Duchess and how fenced in she was. Again, issue with the writing and tone - I did not get until the end that she was TWELVE YEARS OLD WHILE ALL THIS WAS HAPPENING. Admittedly, I must have missed the part where it was written (I am a skimmer - frequently have to reread passages sometimes). I was viewing it all as if she were Ismae's age - which I feel is how the writing makes it come across - but this just makes all the men bidding for her to be their wife so much more atrocious. I'd actually like to see a fourth book with Anne as the romantic lead because I think a romance with her would be so interesting. Who could she trust? And she had the makings of a strong and determined woman.

Overall, even though it is well written, Grave Mercy just didn't meet with my expectations, especially after hearing so much hype about it. I think one day I may give the second book a try (because it comes highly recommended by Dana, who's opinion I trust!). I just hope it doesn't leave me wanting like this one did.

Are you in the book club? Or have you read Grave Mercy and the His Fair Assassin series before? Let me know if you agree or disagree with this review! 

And if you're not in the book club, you could be! Click here to check us out!




Sunday, 26 July 2015

Camp Nano Update Week 3

It's time for the weekly update - I'll make it brief because ONLY FIVE DAYS UNTIL THE END OF NANO!


  • I have been so lazy. So SO lazy. I put the 'pro' into procrastination this week. Baking, walking, marathoning Grimm, lying on my bed doing literally nothing...you name it - I've been doing that instead of writing. For good reason.

  • I hit the 'I hate my story' part of this journey. And I don't mean just a mild dose of tearful 'this won't go right' and 'I'm a terrible writer' type blues. I mean a deep burning hatred for this particular story. I don't want to ever touch it again.

  • There were a lot of contributing factors towards this. I've been having trouble with the narratives all along, and then the main character, but everywhere I look I see similar stories, shows and movies popping up and I just lost heart in the originality of the idea. I lost faith and just talk about it made me want to punch a puppy.

  • I hit a massive slump in general. Reading, writing and blogging (hence this post being a day late). I have deadlines for my university magazine and I'm just staring at the half-finished articles like ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH. 

  • I blame Go Set A Watchman. I was being super productive until I started reading that book and it's been such a struggle to get into that it stalled everything. Thanks a lot Harper Lee.

  • MOOD SWINGS. Okay so this is a little personal and I'll spare the details, but I think it's important to acknowledge that sometimes there are reasons outside of your control that prevent you from being about to get in the writing zone. Sometimes you just feel off, for no real reason and you'll all over the place. Sometimes you can write through them, channel them to particular scenes. And sometimes you just can't. 

  • I did hardly any sprinting this week. I was pretty busy with other things (see the procrastination section) but I think not sprinting really made it worse. Sprinting has been good  for me throughout this process and I should have made more of an effort to sprint!
  • I started walking. I'm in Ireland and it's a beautiful country, so I decided to start walking to clear my head and tire me out in the evenings so I can sleep better. There's a lake nearby which is really beautiful and the other night I walked 4 miles which is great for me.

  • It started to inspire me. I've heard authors say that if you're struggling with a scene to go outside and take a walk, which sounds like the easiest thing in the world but I never actually did it. I started to plan out dialogue the way I used to back when I was always writing lots; I would run through the conversations in my head (and sometimes out loud...I hope that doesn't make me sound too insane) and get to know my characters like that, build scenes around those interactions.



  • I started working on Polaris 2. I love this world and the characters in these stories so returning to it, and starting to plot out my story has brought me some happiness this week!

  • I won't make my 50K target. Yeah, I'm bummed because I started so strongly and was so enthusiastic. Yes, I'm disappointed in myself. But I am trying to focus on the positives: that I wrote anything at all and that I made a great group of friends.

  • I'm going to make sure I write every day between now and the end. Wish me luck!


As always, how is it going for you guys? Hope you're doing better than I am! Let me know in the comments below :)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Writer's Life Tag (originally by Kelsey Macke)

This fun tag was created by Kelsey Macke and I was tagged by DanaSquare!

1. Write Fuel: What do you eat/drink while writing?
Whatever really, I'm not particular. I like sour sweets like fizzy laces. I drink peppermint tea to keep my head clear. I know most writers run on caffeine but it really has the opposite effect on me. 

2. Write Sounds: What do you listen to while writing?
As I've mentioned before in other posts, I can't listen to music while I'm writing. I've really tried! I tend to listen to ambient white noise generators like RainyCafe or Rainy Mood. Even instrumental music distracts me, but the background noise of rain seems to really help.

3. Write Vice: What's your most debilitating distraction?
The internet of course. It's the most debilitating distraction for everything haha. Oh, and this blog. I should be building my word count right now. Instead, I've written three blog posts.

4. Write Horror: What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you while writing?
Probably losing work, for whatever reason. Although I think spending time working on something and then finding out it's already been done is really disheartening.

5. Write Joy: What's the best thing that's ever happened while writing or how do you celebrate small victories?
I share any successes with my writer friends and my family. The best thing would definitely having my first short story published in the Patchwork Press anthology. 

6. Write Crew: Who do you communicate with or not communicate with while writing?
MY AWESOME WRITING GROUP! The #RoyalWriters are such a great group of writers to work with and they've already helped me out loads. <3 font="">

7. Write Secret: What's your writing secret to success or hidden flaw?
I don't know if I have a secret to success. Just stay true to your story and believe in your characters, let them guide you and work hard. Also, read. LOTS. It'll inspire and push you.

8. Write-spiration: What always makes you productive?
Deadlines mostly. If I know it has to be done, I'll do it. But things like Pinterest and the enthusiasm of other people really motivate me too! I like to have lots on the go too, because I am obviously insane.

9. Write Peeve: What's one thing writers do (or you do) that's annoying?
I jump from one idea to another without finishing a SINGLE DAMN PROJECT ARGHHHHH.

10. Write Words- Share one sentence from a project. Past or present.
I'll share from the last thing I wrote today. It's from a winter romance project I'm doing with Steph and Dana from #RoyalWriters:

"When T.S Eliot wrote that April was the cruellest month, he clearly hadn’t spent December on the East Coast."

I tag any remaining RoyalWriters who want to do this, and anyone else who fancies it! Best of luck!